The social dilemma is a new Netflix documentary directed by Jeff Orlowski. The aim of the documentary is to show the dark side of social networks. It is composed by the testimony of tech experts on their own creations and a fiction part. This movie is hard to watch because it puts you face to face with reality of what social networks are all about. Watching this movie in an opportunity to question your relation with social networks. It reminds that by using social networks you are the product. It makes alarming observations especially regarding young people.
An addiction comparable to drugs
They designed algorithms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok etc. to release dopamine into the brain. The “happiness hormone is the other name of this molecule. The brain released it during experiences associated with pleasure, and especially at the time of drug consumption. The massive release of dopamine may cause behavioural disorders like hyper-sexuality or addiction.
Also, the documentary made another drug connection. It is about the way to name consumers; in both cases, we are talking about “users”.
A definite impact on mental health
This documentary linked the massive use of social networks by young people and the increase in the number of suicides. By using these platforms, young people compare themselves with others. They pay attention to the amount of “likes” they get on their publications, how many “followers” they have, or commentaries they receive. These ways of demonstrating their interest may have a positive impact but it also has a negative one. As we saw it in the documentary, their producer did not planned the negative impact, one of them said that he did not realize it and just wanted to give love.
On social networks, people have this ease to be mean to others. They do not realize the impact of their words. The self-esteem and self-confidence can be impacted in so many ways on social networks and especially on Instagram. This platform is full of photoshopped pictures that show men and women with so-called “perfect bodies”. It suggests all users to comply with beauty standards that they defined, and which do not fit with reality. Nevertheless, more and more people try to fight against it by creating accounts that show people who do not fit with these standards, but it is still a small part.
Tools made to manipulate
A terrifying point that it reveals is how these platforms use our data to manipulate all of us and put in danger democracies by the polarization. This observation is all the more terrifying when one understands that the result is not an accident. The desire to manipulate user behavior is avowed. This means that if these tools fall into the hands of people such as dictators, they will be able to manipulate us without us even realizing it. Moreover, it is thanks to these manipulation techniques that Russia has been able to instrumentalize social networks to weaken Hillary Clinton during the last U.S. presidential elections.
In other words, this documentary, which mixed interviews and fiction thus giving strong credibility. It evokes interesting facts, most of which are not new but important to underline. The funny thing to note is that Netflix uses these algorithms as well to make personal suggestions. However, by making this documentary available on Netflix, it will raise awareness among young people who are the main users of the platform.